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Why is That Hippo Blue?

             During the time of the Middle Kingdom, in the twelth dynasty, a masterpiece was created. It seemed as if it was just an ordinary everyday paperweight of some sort, but instead it was actually a symbol for the afterlife during this time period. It was "Hippopotamus" from the tomb of Senbi (Tomb B.3), Meir. There is much to be said about this work, including the description, how it represented the society into which it was created, and what signification it has to the society we live in today.
             This well formed likeness of a hippopotamus illustrates the Egyptian artist's recognition for the natural world. It was molded in faience, a ceramic material made of ground quartz. Under the bluish-green glaze the body is painted with lotus blossoms (river plants), made to look as though the hippo is swimming underwater in the marshes it calls his home, therefore answering the question,"Why is the hippo blue?" The so-called amiable appearance to this friendly figurine is indeed deceptive. The ancient Egyptians knew that the hippo was one of the most dangerous animals they had ever seen. They knew that the hippo was a threat for their small fishing boats and any other floating device they used in their waters. They believed that they might also encounter this ferocious animal on their path to the afterlife. So they decided to give themselves the upper hand. This certain sculture was found with three of its legs broken, a handicap they gave him to make them less vulnerable in the afterlife. .
             Surprisingly, this sculpture has been named William by a former owner of a picture of the hippo, an Englishman, Captain H. M. Raleigh. William was again, made by a process called faience. "To the Egyptians, faience was known as tjehnet, and more rarely as khshdj, the same word used for lapis lazuli. Both words are related to those for the properties of "shining," "gleaming," or "dazzling," Faience was thought to glisten with a light symbolic of life, rebirth and immortality.

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